Climate

World Meteorological Organization launches new weather data system
February 21, 2012 07:01 AM - Alecia D. McKenzie, SciDevNet

An international information system designed to improve and expand the exchange of data on weather, climate and water will help boost food security around the world, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The UN agency, which launched the system last month (31 January), said it would improve access to meteorological observations and products for stakeholders including the research and disaster risk reduction sectors.

Survival of Fish with Antifreeze in Antarctica
February 16, 2012 12:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A unique group of fish that has evolved to live in Antarctic waters thanks to anti-freeze proteins in their blood and body fluids is threatened by rising temperatures in the Southern Ocean, according to a new study by Yale. The development of antifreeze glycoproteins by notothenioids, a fish family that adapted to newly formed polar conditions in the Antarctic millions of years ago, is an evolutionary success story. The three species of fish are an example of the diversity this lineage achieved when it expanded into niches left by fish decimated by cold water environment. Now the same fish are endangered by warming of the Antarctic seas.

Studies Indicate Increasing Frequency of Intense Storms, Storm Surges
February 15, 2012 08:31 AM - Andrew Burger, Global Warming is Real

A new MIT-Princeton University study examining the prospective impacts of extreme storms and storm surges based on a range of climate change scenarios indicates that what were once 100-year and 500-year events would become 3 to 20 and 25 to 240-year events. The study can help coastal planners, who typically design coastal seawalls, buildings and other structures with a 60 to 120-year usable lifespan, according to an MIT News report.

Geo-engineering: now Bill Gates is supporting it
February 15, 2012 07:45 AM - Kara Scharwath, Triple Pundit

With the help of a group of very wealthy and well known individuals, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Chairman of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, a group of leading climate scientists are advocating for the use of controversial geoengineering as a way to prevent catastrophic climate change. The scientists are lobbying national governments and international organizations to fund experiments that would involve manipulating the atmosphere on a large scale to counteract high concentrations of greenhouse gases. These might include methods like fertilizing the oceans to create a huge carbon sink or spraying reflective particles or other chemicals into the air to reflect sunlight and prevent it from warming the atmosphere.

Ice Caps and Glaciers Contend for Biggest Loser Award
February 14, 2012 10:27 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

There are few things on Earth that have undergone a more dramatic weight loss than the world's ice caps and glaciers. According to a recent study, they have lost about 150 billion tons per year from 2003 to 2010. Such a large quantity of ice has translated to a 0.4 millimeter rise in sea levels each year. At this rate, it will take 2,500 years for sea levels to rise one meter. However, indications point towards accelerated ice loss in the future. Plus, if including ice lost from the major land-based ice sheets, sea level rise is much worse.

Arctic Warming Continuing, Approaching Tipping Point?
February 14, 2012 07:20 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Last year the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth due to global climate change, experienced its warmest twelve months yet. According to recent data by NASA, average Arctic temperatures in 2011 were 2.28 degrees Celsius (4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above those recorded from 1951-1980. As the Arctic warms, imperiling its biodiversity and indigenous people, researchers are increasingly concerned that the region will hit climatic tipping points that could severely impact the rest of the world. A recent commentary in Nature Climate Change highlighted a number of tipping points that keep scientists awake at night.

Himalayan Ice melt less than thought
February 10, 2012 07:04 AM - Miguel Llanos, msnbc.com

Estimates from satellite monitoring suggest the melt rate from the Himalayas and other high-altitude Asian mountains in recent years was much less than what scientists on the ground had estimated, but those monitoring the satellite data warn not to jump to the skeptical conclusion. The region's ice melt from 2003-2010 was estimated at 4 billion tons a year, far less than earlier estimates of around 50 billion tons, according to the study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Marguerite Bay Glaciation
February 9, 2012 02:24 PM - Editor, ENN

Marguerite Bay or Margaret Bay is an extensive bay on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula, which is bounded on the north by Adelaide Island and on the south by Wordie Ice Shelf, George VI Sound and Alexander Island. A new paper reports glacial geological data that provide evidence for the timing of ice-sheet retreat and thinning at the end of the last glaciation (~10,000 years ago) in Marguerite Bay. The length of time that rock outcrops have been exposed was dated which allow dating of the thinning of the ice sheet, and the record from seabed sediments. This then allows the determination of how the ice sheet retreated across the continental shelf. The dating shows a surprising pattern. About 9,600 years ago, the ice in Marguerite Bay appears to have thinned very quickly indeed, an observation that turns out to be consistent with several other datasets from the same area (ice-shelf collapse histories, raised beaches and lake sediment cores).

Tree Rings and Volcanic Eruptions
February 8, 2012 11:28 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Counting the number of tree rings and observing the relative growth for each ting can give an age for when something happened. However, it may not be that simple. Some climate cooling caused by past volcanic eruptions may not be evident in tree-ring reconstructions of temperature change, because large enough temperature drops lead to greatly shortened or even absent growing seasons, according to climate researchers who compared tree-ring temperature reconstructions with model simulations of past temperature changes.

Rising ocean acidity worst for Caribbean and Pacific
February 7, 2012 03:35 PM - Lisbeth Fog, SciDevNet

The current trend of increasing ocean acidification, which threatens fisheries around the world, is driven mainly by man-made changes and is higher even than that seen at the end of the last ice age, some 11,000 year ago, a study has said. Much of the carbon released by human activity ends up in the oceans, increasing their acidity and reducing the growth of corals and molluscs, which in turn may affect fisheries and aquaculture.

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